Kang, Gonzalez win starting jobs in Pirates’ infield
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Jung Ho Kang and Erik Gonzalez have won starting jobs in the infield with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
General manager Neal Huntington said Monday that Kang has beaten out Colin Moran at third base and Erik Gonzalez has won the shortstop competition over Kevin Newman.
“It was not an easy decision because all four guys, in their own way, had legitimate claims to be the regular,” Huntington said.
Kang is just 5 for 28 (.185) with 13 strikeouts this spring but all five hits have been solo home runs. Moran was 6 for 28 (.214) with a double and a homer through the weekend.
Moran, however, had committed four errors while Kang had two.
“The power has been real,” manager Clint Hurdle said of Kang. “It’s spring training, but it’s five homers. We don’t have anybody else that’s hit five homers.”
Kang missed the entire 2017 season and the beginning of 2018 because he was unable to secure a work visa to travel from his native South Korea following a third DUI arrest. He then underwent wrist surgery last year before returning to the Pirates for the final three games of the season.
The Pirates beat the Rays 4-2 on Monday behind a strong start from Nick Kingham, who made his final bid for the fifth starter job. Kingham retired his first 11 batters, struck out five and allowed two hits over five scoreless innings.
Charlie Morton allowed two runs over five innings for Tampa Bay against his former team.
MORE FROM AROUND SPRING TRAINING
YANKEES 7, BRAVES 4
Looking to bolster their ailing rotation, the Yankees signed left-hander Gio Gonzalez to a minor league contract. The two-time All-Star was 10-11 with a 4.21 ERA last season for Washington and Milwaukee, which acquired him on Aug. 31.
Luke Voit, trying to beat out Greg Bird for New York’ first base job, hit his fourth homer of the spring. Aaron Judge hit a two-run triple. Judge has four doubles, a triple, six homers and 14 RBIs.
In his next-to-last tuneup for opening day, Masahiro Tanaka allowed one run and two hits in five innings, giving up a homer to Nick Markakis.
RANGERS 3, DODGERS 1
Ross Stripling will begin the season in the starting rotation for Los Angeles, with ace Clayton Kershaw unlikely to be on the active roster.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts announced Kershaw won’t start on opening day because of the left shoulder inflammation that’s slowed him at spring training, ending his streak of pitching eight straight openers. Kershaw is scheduled to throw live batting practice Wednesday, but there are no plans in place after that.
Increasingly, it appears left-hander Rich Hill will get the ball against the Arizona Diamondbacks on opening day.
Rougned Odor had three hits and Shin-Soo Choo added two for Texas. Mike Minor tossed 3 1/3 shutout innings.
Brad Miller homered for Los Angeles, and Stripling gave up two runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
MARINERS 6, YOMIURI GIANTS 5
Mitch Haniger hit a tying, two-run homer in the seventh inning and David Freitas homered in the eighth to give the Mariners their second straight exhibition win over the Giants in Tokyo. Dee Gordon and Omar Narvaez each had two hits. Felix Hernandez allowed five runs in four innings in his final regular-season tuneup.
BLUE JAYS 3, TIGERS (SS) 2
Teoscar Hernandez homered in the first inning and Clayton Richard pitched six solid innings for Toronto. Richard allowed two runs and three hits while striking out six. Dalton Pompey added three hits.
Daniel Norris allowed three runs in three innings for Detroit. Gordon Beckham had a solo homer in the first.
MARLINS 7, NATIONALS (SS) 1
Caleb Smith struck out seven in five innings of one-run ball for Miami. Peter O’Brien had two hits and five RBIs, and Austin Dean had three hits.
Patrick Corbin allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings, striking out five. Ryan Zimmerman singled and scored for Washington, which had just three hits.
ORIOLES 14, TIGERS (SS) 1
Dwight Smith Jr. homered and had three hits to lift Baltimore. Trey Mancini and Jonathan Villar each tripled, and Chance Sisco had two hits. Andrew Cashner opened with five innings of one-run ball.
Nick Castellanos hit a first-inning home run for the Tigers, who were held to just three hits. Jordan Zimmermann pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing five runs and five hits.
TWINS 4, RED SOX 1
Eddie Rosario hit a two-run home run for the Twins. Jose Berrios pitched 4 2/3 innings and limited the defending World Series champions to a run, three hits, and three walks while striking out four.
Nathan Eovaldi pitched four innings of two-run ball for Boston. J.D. Martinez was 2 for 2.
CARDINALS 4, PHILLIES 1
Dakota Hudson firmed up his bid for a rotation spot by striking out eight over five scoreless innings. The 2016 first-round pick allowed four hits and walked one, dropping his spring ERA to 1.72. Paul Goldschmidt hit his first homer with St. Louis, and Tyler O’Neill went deep for the fifth time.
With Bryce Harper getting a day off, Philadelphia had just six hits.
NATIONALS (SS) 6, METS 5
Spencer Kieboom homered and had two hits and three RBIs for the Nationals, and his brother, Carter Kieboom, also had two hits. Joe Ross allowed two hits in three innings.
Jeurys Familia struck out two during a perfect first inning, and Kyle Dowdy followed with three scoreless innings. Michael Conforto hit a two-run homer. Mets aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard squared off in an intrasquad game and combined to strike out 24 batters. New York used them on the back fields instead of against Washington to avoid giving the NL East rivals any extra looks.
GIANTS 5, WHITE SOX 2
Tyler Beede struck out three in two innings, allowing two runs and four hits for San Francisco. Steven Duggar had two hits and Donovan Solano drove in two.
Yonder Alonso hit his fourth home run of the spring and Adam Engel had two hits for the White Sox. Manny Banuelos allowed two runs and three hits over 4 1/3 innings.
PADRES 3, INDIANS 1
San Diego pulled rookie and possible opening day starter Chris Paddack was scratched hours before the game and will instead pitch in a minor league game Tuesday. Robbie Erlin pitched instead and delivered two scoreless innings. Wil Myers hit his first homer of the spring and Josh Naylor hit his second.
Trevor Bauer struck out nine over 5 2/3 innings but also allowed three runs and four hits, including two home runs. Eric Stamets had two of Cleveland’s three hits.
ROCKIES 5, REDS 2
Trevor Story homered and Ryan McMahon had a homer and a double. Kyle Freeland allowed two runs and seven hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Tyler Mahle allowed four runs in four innings for the Reds. He’s expected to take the season-opening roster spot left open by Alex Wood, sidelined with a back ailment. Scott Schebler homered and had two hits to lift his average to .429.